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Autumn 2007, vol 5 no 3


Embedded Stones
Kala Ramesh


I have no daughters of my own, call me Father, he insisted.

But somehow coming from a very close-knit family, to me father could mean only one person---the one who had dropped me at school every day, the one who had during the nights when my cough seemed never ending, gently spooned cough syrup into my mouth. The one who took me to my first amusement park, and held me tight as I screamed with joy and fear on the roller coaster ride.

the year passes
stones on the pathway
only get deeper




Haiku Blossoms in Indian Music and Dance

on my lighted lamp—
autumn hues

An auspicious occasion in India generally begins with lighting the traditional bronze lamp with wicks on all five sides. The prayer song, invoking the blessings of Lord Ganesha, the remover of obstacles or Goddess Saraswati, the mother of all arts and learning, sets the mood for a grand opening.

deep in raga
a sudden applause
startles the singer *

In Indian Classical Music, raaga means melody with its root word in Sanskrit meaning 'passion'. There is a pun on the word 'raaga' in the above poem.

Unlike Western Classical Music, which is scored, Indian classical is based on improvisation. Here a musician creates on the concert platform and Jazz comes closest to this. When a musician improvises, there is a natural need to go deep within herself.

Listening to Indian Classical, the audience can, at any given time spontaneously respond to music being created with loud claps or appreciation. This is not regarded as a disturbance but rather, as an incentive to the artist to create better!

As expected, a musician, who is deep into the raaga / melody, having lost touch with the outside world, is startled by the sudden appreciation from the listeners!

on her veena . . .
a plucking as gentle
as a cuckoo's call

Saraswati Veena is a plucked stringed instrument. It is named after the Goddess Saraswati, who is usually depicted holding or playing this instrument.

the mridangam—
echoes of distant thunder
bridge the gap

tranquil . . .
thundering rhythms on tabla
the fingers all a blur

Rhythm is an intrinsic part of Indian Classical dance and music. The two main percussion instruments are, namely the Mridangam used in South Indian Classical Music and the Tabla used in North Indian Classical

Mridangam is one single elongated piece, made from wood with animal skin covering both ends where the player strikes. Tabla consists of two drums, the base or the male drum is called the Dagga made of steel and the treble or the female drum, made from wood, is called the Tabla.

she draws from within
a lilting step

While Ballet is the most practiced form of classical dance the world cherishes, India can boast of more than seven forms of classical dances. The major schools of classical dance are Kathak, Manipuri, Odissi, Bharata Natyam, Kuchipudi, Kathakali and Mohiniattam, apart from the countless folk and tribal dance traditions. Indian dance has seen a steady growth for the last two thousand years

on the dais
her eyes talk the language
I understand

her face in liquid gold
of the setting sun

Abhinaya - Is the various gestures made by the whole body, the limbs and the face of the dancer to portray the nine rasas or feelings and emotions, thus awakening a resonance in the audience's mind. This is a specialized area, and there are numerous dancers who are renowned for their abhinaya.

dance drama
a kaliripayattu artist
comes to life!

Kalaripayattu is the most comprehensive system of martial arts of the State of Kerala, and is regarded as one of the oldest and most scientific in the world. We now have renowned choreographers, who weave movements of this martial art into classical dance sequences to dramatic effect!

upturned faces
the moon occupies
center stage

Many of the concerts I have enjoyed in Chennai, my hometown, were in the open-air auditoriums. The compositions in dance and in music are mostly on themes based on religion, mythology and nature. And a nature lover, while witnessing such a performance, can easily get drowned in such an atmosphere . . . the cool breeze from the beaches of the Bay of Bengal, the scent of jasmine on women's plaited hair, the sound of their sliver anklets and glass bangles as they shift in their sitting positions, the diamond stud on the singer's nose flashing as she moves, are images still vivid in my memory.

mountain bridge
I pass through
the clouds *

Kala Ramesh.


"deep in raga" and its explanatory notes first appeared in Triplopia, Vol VI, issue 2: NOW - Spring 07

"mountain bridge" Haikuworld's Shiki monthly kukai - April 07


An exponent of Indian Classical Music, Kala Ramesh writes:

"A musical note lives for a moment and fades into the void . . . that sacred silence. And Hindustani Classical Music, being extempore, is as fresh as a just bloomed lily. Being very similar in form, music attracted me to haiku. In both, I believe there is a resonance that lingers in the spirit long after the sound has faded”

A recently turned haiku poet in 2005, her haiku has been included in The Red Moon Anthology for 2006. Kala's work, consisting of haiku, tanka, senryu, haibun and renku, has appeared in leading e-zines and anthologies.